By Tyler Isaacson
Does this sound familiar? You cruise through the first few agenda items and all of a sudden the entire room is talking about an incident that happened in one of the travel or recreation games over the weekend. A couple of interruptions like this and before you know it the meeting runs an hour later than anticipated and you get very little accomplished.
With 15 years of watching and participating on a soccer board, I realize it is very easy to lose your way.
Here are a few ideas that may help you keep your meeting moving in the right direction.
Have a plan, have an agenda
Although this may seem basic, without an agenda your meeting is set for failure. We have a designated board member reach out to the entire board for agenda items a week prior to the scheduled meeting. This is done via email with a specific deadline to receive the items. The meeting is divided up in to sections based on the agenda items with each item allotted a certain amount of time. The president reviews the agenda prior to distributing via email/print.
Days of the week
Choose a day that is convenient for the majority of the board members. Keep in mind practice schedules (many are probably coaches) and school calendars. Back to school nights, parent teacher conferences, school plays, etc., will affect the attendance. We look at the school calendar at the beginning of every year to limit the conflicts.
Start the meeting on time each and every week and your board member will make sure they are there prior to the start time. Once you begin to start a few minutes late board members tend to arrive later and later. If the majority cannot make it on time move the scheduled time to make it more convenient for the majority.
Keep it consistent
Try to keep the meeting day consistent each month. It is easier for board members and their significant others to remember. If you must make a change give at least 30 days notice to the board members so they can plan properly.
Who’s in charge?
President or VP or whoever you choose to run the meeting must take control. We like to have a designated person run the meeting and follow the agenda while the president intervenes when things begin to get off point. Side conversations are discouraged.
Allow for New Business
Board members do their best to get agenda items in on time but there are occasional items that don’t make the cut. Allow a few minutes at the end of each meeting for new business. If any of these items can be tabled to the next meeting -- do it. You will be better prepared to tackle the issue if it is on the agenda ahead of the meeting.
When issues arise requiring the boards immediate attention, many times you do not need to call an additional meeting. Use conference calling, on-line meetings, or email to resolve issues when possible. Non-scheduled meetings normally have low attendance and can be very unproductive.
While taking care of business is the ultimate goal of the meeting, the relationships with your fellow board members is an important part of the organization. Set aside time after the meeting to exchange stories. We sometimes extend our meeting at the local eatery -- we don’t bring the agenda with us!
If you are trying to attract new board members to your organization, inviting them to a meeting is one way for them to see what it is all about. Running an efficient meeting leaves a good impression on these prospects. The bottom line is most boards are made up of volunteers and their time is important.
(Tyler Isaacson is a club president, travel coach, recreation coach, youth player, college player and dad. He has 30 years of playing and coaching experience. He is the founder of youthsoccer101.com a leader in on-line coaching education for all levels.)